Skip to content

Unfaithful: Love, Adultery, and Marriage Reform in Nineteenth-Century America

Carol Faulkner

University of Pennsylvania Press, October 2019

Carol Faulkner

Carol Faulkner

Unfaithful: Love, Adultery, and Marriage Reform in Nineteenth-Century America, a new book by Associate Dean and Professor of History Carol Faulkner, was published in September by the University of Pennsylvania Press.

In the book, Faulkner traces how social reformers between 1830 and 1880 shifted notions of adultery and marriage away from patriarchal, legal frameworks, reconceptualizing marriage as a voluntary relationship focused on love and individual choice. For these reformers, she argues, adultery was a metaphor that allowed them to express their experiences within loveless marriages — a perspective that shifted attitudes toward marriage and advanced important conversations concerning sexual rights and divorce across the United States. These 19th century criticisms of marriage have continued a longer transformation in marital and gender relations that continues to this day.

Faulkner studies women, gender, sexuality, and social movements in 19th century America. Among six authored or edited books, and numerous chapters concerning the role of women in 19th century activism, she is author of Lucretia Mott's Heresy: Abolition and Women's Rights in Nineteenth-Century America and Women's Radical Reconstruction: The Freedmen's Aid Movement, both also published by the University of Pennsylvania Press. She is particularly well known for her research concerning Mott and is frequently invited to speak on topics including women’s suffrage, abolition, and feminism in the early United States.

For more information on Faulkner’s book, please visit the University of Pennsylvania Press’s website. Faulkner also discussed her research in a Department of History podcast.